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Keywords:

  • Cyclicity;
  • high-frequency cycles;
  • peritidal carbonates;
  • tectonic controls;
  • tectono-stratigraphic modelling

Abstract

Studies of Quaternary extensional faults indicate that they have instantaneous amounts of throw (0·4 to 4 m), average slip rates (0·05 to 2·8 m kyr−1) and frequency of recurrence (<40 000 years) accounting for the accommodation space required for the accumulation of peritidal carbonate parasequences (PCPs). Hangingwall sites and graben are characterized by fault down-dropping together with regional subsidence, and footwall sites and horsts by fault-related uplift alternating with periods of regional subsidence. The relative sea-level curves generated by these processes operating in a maritime rift setting are used as inputs to a forward stratigraphic modelling program SedTec2000 to simulate how fault-related changes in accommodation space can account for high-frequency PCP formation. Each instantaneous fault slip generates a flooding surface or aggradation in hangingwall and graben settings. High-frequency cycles in hangingwall sites are either symmetric (deepening then shallowing upward) or asymmetric (shallowing-upward). The major factor controlling cycle types is the balance between rates of carbonate accumulation and generation of accomodation space. High-frequency cycles in footwall sites and horsts comprise shallow subtidal facies, with no distinctive bathymetric trends, capped by erosional boundaries generated by footwall uplift. The modelled cycles are of the same thickness, with bathymetric trends and frequency to cycles commonly interpreted to be due to orbitally driven eustatic sea-level changes or autocyclic processes. These numerical experiments demonstrate that high-frequency PCPs can be generated by tectonic, fault-related processes, a hypothesis that is frequently discounted.